1929 Cord L-29 Cabriolet
Chassis # F433 Engine # FD1387
Errett Lobban Cord introduced the L-29 in 1929 as a gap-filling model priced between his Cord Corporation’s Auburn and Duesenberg lines. Powered by a straight-eight flathead engine built by Lycoming- another of Cord’s companies-the L-29 featured front wheel drive, then much in vogue at Indianapolis. An avid race fan, Cord had been impressed by the performance of the Harry Miller-designed front-wheel-drive Junior 8 Special, and in 1926 purchased the passenger-car rights to Miller’s fwd designs. Cornelius Van Ranst was hired to assist with development, and by November 1927 the first prototype was ready for testing and assessment by Fred Duesenberg, Cord’s Chief Engineer. Staff designer Al Leamy contributed the stylish coachwork, which was underpinned by Van Ranst’s X-braced chassis frame, the worlds first. Production of the new car now dubbed “L-29”commenced at the Auburn Indiana plant in April 1929, with a two day press launch in June. The advantages conferred by the L-29’s front wheel drive layout- chiefly, a low centre of gravity and increased passenger space were immediately apparent, while the freedom its low slung frame gave coachbuilders meant that the Cord was soon attracting the attention of master craftsmen on both sides of the Atlantic. The L-29 was offered initially in sedan, brougham convertible coupe and phaeton versions, at prices ranging from $3,095 to $3,295. Unfortunately for Cord, just as his new baby was reaching dealers’ showrooms the Wall Street crash of October 1929 blew away a huge proportion of his intended clientele. Despite a programme of price cuts, sales never took off and the world’s first practical front-wheel-drive production car was discontinued in 1932. Including cars supplied in chassis form to independent coachbuilders, just 5,010 L-29s were built, 1,173 of these being convertible coupes like the example offered here. It is thought that around 300 L-29s of all types exist today. This car has been treated to a “frame-off” restoration in 1995 by Alan Taylor Restoration of Escondido, California, a company notable for its numerous Pebble Beach successes. Following extensive detailing and cosmetic refurbishment in 2002, the car was entered at two recent New England car shows, receiving the “Best in Show” award (out of a field of approximately 900) at Stowe, Vermont in August and earning the “Head judge’s Trophy” (out of a field of over 1,000) at the Southbury, Connecticut Car Show in September. The car features dual side mounts, chromed wire wheels, rumble seat, nickel-plated dashboard instrument faces, leather interior, ‘Stay-Fast ’convertible top and Woodlite headlamps. In the interests of consistent performance and reliability, a later carburetor and electric fuel pump have been fitted, while a fire extinguisher is hidden discreetly under the dashboard on the passenger side. The car also comes with the correct knock off wheel wrench, owner’s manual and a custom-made engine oil dipstick.